A surprising little tool to keep you from becoming overwhelmed

Those days… you know those days.

Those days when, well, everything. (Do I need to spell this out?)

Those days when tantrums and baths and meal prep and cleanup and laundry and laundry and laundry and commitments and making a mommy meal and carpool and sheitel macher appointment and doctor appointment and dentist appointment and what were you thinking when you scheduled all these appointments back to back and cleanup and meal prep and laundry again and protest and kvetching and kickback and messy rooms and why did they just empty the basket of freshly folded laundry and you just don’t have TIIIIIIIIMMMEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

(*deep breath*)

So you know those days?

When you just feel so overwhelmed, you feel like your brain will implode from the elephant dancing on your bedraggled snood?

So let me tell you something you may not know about that overwhelm:

It’s not coming from all those things

Overwhelm, contrary to what it seems, is not coming from all the things you have to do.

When we’re overwhelmed, it feels like everything is bearing down on us.

But in actuality, overwhelm is coming from inside our own heads.

No, that doesn’t mean it’s not real. No, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do all those things.

What it does mean is that the feeling of being overwhelmed is coming from your perception of the situation, NOT from the situation itself.

Now, I know when you’re overwhelmed it feels even more impossible to carve out some time to fix it, but think of it as sharpening a saw so you can more effectively cut down a tree: you lose some time in the short run, but save a whole lot of time in the grand scheme of things.

Step 1: Notice the overwhelm

When we’re living life, we usually get so caught up in our thoughts and feelings in the moment, so caught up in *living* them that we don’t actually notice that the overwhelm is there.

It’s like having music blasting at an event, having to yell just to talk — and then suddenly someone turns the music off and you realize just how hard it was to chat with your neighbor while it was running.

That’s what overwhelm is like.

So first: notice it. Be aware that it’s there.

Step 2: Notice the thoughts

Our view of reality (in this case: overwhelming) is always formed by the thoughts we have running round our heads.

Or, put another way: thoughts create feelings.

So that overwhelm has its roots in the thoughts we’re thinking.

Once you notice that overwhelm, notice the thoughts that are behind it. What are you believing about your situation that’s making you feel overwhelmed? What do you tell yourself? Which thoughts are running like a wild herd of horses around your head?

Remember that Hashem puts thoughts in our heads; they’ll always come. They always feel real, but often they’re not actually real.

What if this thought wasn’t actually real?

Be open to challenging that belief.

(I will note: this is a HUGE topic that I could talk about in a whole series of blog posts, so if it’s feeling confusing for you, that’s okay. Let me know in the comments if you want to clear something up!)

Step 3: Choose 1-3 things

So you’ve noticed that you’re overwhelmed. You’ve noticed that it’s coming from a thought or some thoughts, and you know (logically, at least) that those thoughts may not be real, but are coloring your perception of reality.

So now I want you to choose 1-3 bite-size things that you’ll actually accomplish.

Narrow down your list of “must-dos” (I’ve got a great tool for you on that in this blog post, if you can find a little more time!) to just 1, 2 or maybe 3. If it’s later in the day, only allow yourself one thing; if you have more time to accomplish, then 3 might be okay, but keep things manageable.

If those three things still feel overwhelming, then break them down into smaller tasks, or do fewer things.

The goal is to help you actually get things done instead of freezing or doing everything except what actually needs to get done.

As busy mothers, overwhelm is often part of the air we breathe, seems like an unavoidable fact of daily life.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You are ready to make some changes so you can love being a mother, and I’ve got just the package for you! Schedule a preliminary call HERE so we can talk about getting started!

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Comments (2)
  1. Shaindy

    thanks for your help on this.
    overwhelm is a big thing you should be talking about!(at least for me!)
    when i reach overwhelm it is too late for me to choose 1-3 and break down what is most important….
    its like i have to do a b c d e….. and im not managing and dont have time and everything needs to be done NOW!!!
    cant leave anything out! how do i deal with that overwhelm stage?????
    i know its in my head cause at the end i do it (just with a tear or 2 in between). if i wouldn’t think its so much things i would do it one at a time and get them done. but when tired and overworked are in the way overwhelmed comes in and all feels way too heavy….
    would love to hear from you! thanks!!

    • Hi Shainy,

      I absolutely understand how you feel — when you’re overwhelmed, it really does feel like EVERYTHING needs to happen all at once.

      In truth, it’s one of those counterintuitive things — if you just choose one thing to do, then you’ll be able to get a lot more done than if you try to do all at once.

      Next time you feel overwhelmed, try taking a deep breath, just choose one thing, and do that one thing… and see how it goes!

      Keep me posted!
      Chaya Shifra